Has WHO Advised Against Isolation & Social Distancing? Not Really!

A message on several social media platforms claims that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against isolation, quarantine and social distancing to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Quint investigated the viral message and found no truth in it.


“Breaking News: The World Health Organization has taken a complete U-turn and said that Corona patients neither need to be isolated nor quarantined nor social of distance….and it cannot even transmit from one patient to another….see the video (sic),” the claim reads.

To add to its authenticity, a video of WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove is also being circulated with the claim. In the video, Dr Kerkhove can be heard saying, “It actually seems rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits (novel coronavirus) onward to a secondary individual.”

An archived version of the tweet can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/Yh1fT">here</a>.

An archived version of the post can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/2EF2u">here</a>.

An archived version of the page can be accessed <a href="https://archive.is/vGW5b">here</a>.


There are two parts to the viral claim which had to be verified:

  • Text stating that WHO has advised against quarantine and social distancing.
  • Video clip of Dr Maria Van Kerkhove.

On the face of it, it sounds absurd that WHO will advise against isolation and social distancing at a time when coronavirus has spread across the globe and a vaccine is not in sight. A Google search using terms “WHO Advises against social distancing, isolation” didn’t produce any significant results.

In fact, the organisation on Thursday, 16 July, released a video advocating for self-isolation, face masks and social distancing on its official Twitter handle.


There are lots of things that we want to be doing right now, but they aren’t necessarily what we need to be doing right now – please make good choices.

There’s so much you can do to protect yourself from getting infected and from passing #COVID19 on to others.
-Dr @mvankerkhove pic.twitter.com/0hyAivUelA

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) July 15, 2020

We also reached out to officials at the WHO who confirmed to us that the claim is absolutely fake.

Next, to find the truth behind the video which is being circulated with the claim, we searched Google for “Dr Maria Van Kerkhove on asymptomatic transmission” and found several news reports about her statement.

According to a report by The Guardian, on 8 June, Dr Kerkhove did state that “transmission in asymptomatic patients is rare.” However, a clarification on the subject was issued by her on 9 June. In her clarification, she said that her comment was taken out of context and she categorically mentioned her observation was based on a limited number of studies. “Modelling studies estimate that up to 40% of coronavirus infections could be transmitted by people who have the virus but no symptoms,” the report quoted her as saying.

The full version of Dr Kerkhove’s clarification can be accessed here.

Evidently, an unrelated video is being used to falsely claim that the UN body in a u-turn is now advising people against practising social distancing and following quarantine and isolation rules.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we’ll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

Content retrieved from: https://www.thequint.com/news/webqoof/who-advised-against-isolation-and-social-distancing-fake-news.

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